Under the Nazis, Michel Oppenheim - lawyer, patriot and porcelain collector - is made head of the Jewish community in Mainz. The minutes of his regular meetings with Gestapo functionary Schwoerer survive. Civilly, they discuss the pettiest details of Nazi terror and arrangements for the deportations east. Thanks to his non-Jewish, wife Oppenheim survives.
Once the war ends, the tables are turned. Schwoerer begs Oppenheim for a testimonial, which could save him from a US war crimes trial and execution. Oppenheimer must decide whether to help the man who sat across the table during the past six years of horror and humiliation.
Starring Ed Stoppard, Julian Rhind-Tutt and featuring Robin Lustig.
November 11, 2018 Subject:
Lest we forget
A stunning piece. Somehow, inexplicably, the pettiness and meanness found in the minutes paint a human picture of an evil hatred that was casual and normalised. It is almost impossible to empathise with huge numbers but this is a way in to a place where, I guess, none of us wants to go yet which none of us has any right to ignore.
The play is finely acted and very well structured, with the storyline/discussion both driven and illustrated by excerpts from the minutes. It is not preachy - indeed it is all the more affecting for an almost matter of fact approach. The end seems just right, including the following lines:
“If it existed once it could happen again.”
“One day those who need to know can know what happened.”
Take a look around the world today. Are those who need to know still listening?
Lest we forget – not just the victims but also the how and the why. 11.11.18